Thursday, May 1, 2014

Grover Cleveland - Hangman

A young Grover Cleveland
  I am convinced that most politicians are corrupt and always have been. Honesty and integrity are virtues that I honor in a politician the rare times that I see these character traits in historical figures and present day politicians. When it comes to politicians I judge them by degrees of honesty. Some are more honest than others. Truman was a very honest politician but he described it best when he said that the only difference between an honest politician and a dishonest politician is that once you are bought you stay bought. Our greatest presidents have also been some of our most honest. Washington, Lincoln, Truman, and Reagan. I would not place Grover Cleveland in the great ranks but he was a good president. As politicians go he was one of the most honest in history. He was also a conservative and, surprise of all surprises, a Democrat. He believed in limited government, and fiscal responsibility. The Democratic Party abandoned these beliefs a long time ago. He fought political corruption his entire life. As a young lawyer he supported his widowed mother and sisters and he was involved with a widow named Maria Halpin who became pregnant out of wedlock. She had been involved not only with him but several of Cleveland's friends. Cleveland however was the only one to take responsibility for the baby. He quietly provided financial support until the child reached maturity. 

  When Cleveland ran for president in 1884 his political enemies found out about the child. A political adviser's asked Cleveland how he wanted to handle the scandal and he simply advised them to tell the truth. His enemies used the slogan "Ma, ma, where's my pa"? The scandal didn't hurt him and he was elected president. His supporters answered his critics with "In the White House, ha, ha, ha". Cleveland was the only bachelor president to marry while in the White House. He married Frances Folsom who was only 21 and he was in his late forties. The American people did not mind the age difference and they would eventually have five children together. One of these children would be the inspiration for the "Baby Ruth" candy bar. Cleveland is the only president in American history, that I am aware of, that was ever an executioner. His first political office, that he was elected to, was as sheriff of Erie County New York. He was selected by the Democratic Party for his reputation for honesty to clean up the corruption in the sheriff's office. After he was elected one of the duties of the sheriff was to hang criminals convicted of 1st degree murder. The law was written in such a way that the sheriff and no one else was to hang the prisoner. The previous sheriff appointed one of his deputies to handle this unpleasant duty. His name was Jacob Emerick and he was a tough guy but all the hangings were beginning to get to him. Cleveland believed in the letter of the law however and he felt that it was wrong to pass this duty on to someone else. In 1872 a convict named Patrick Morrissey was scheduled to be executed for stabbing his mother to death. Cleveland sprang the trap but witnesses said that he was sick for three days. This experience did not deter him from doing his duty however and he would hang another convict the following year in 1873. Cleveland would go on to be mayor of Buffalo, governor of New York and president of the United States. Also the only president elected to two terms that weren't consecutive and the only president to serve as an executioner.      
Cleveland as President

Political cartoon depicting his illegitimate child

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